Saturday, June 3, 2023

One in four people have been misinformed on scientific issues

The Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) has presented the results Scientific Misinformation Survey in spain. The study analyzed factors such as scientific information consumption habits, trust in various media, attitudes towards fake news and the ability to identify and propagate scientific hoaxes.

overall have been 2,100 telephone interviews For a sample of people over the age of 15 living in Spain. This study has been prepared by Celia Diaz CatalanProfessor of Sociology at the Complutense University of Madrid and Pablo Cabrera AlvarezResearcher at the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex (United Kingdom).

The report has been developed within the framework of the IBERIFIER project, the digital media observatory of Spain and Portugal, which included FECYT, as an interface organization between science and society, to trace the factors underlying scientific misinformation in Spain Is.

The Internet or social networks are the preferred means of finding out about science and technology (82.1%), environment and ecology (76.6%) and food and material well-being (72.9%).

interest in medical and health issues

Most information seekers show a wide interest in scientific subjects. Thus, 68% of those surveyed expressed their interest in medicine and health and food and physical well-being, and 60.7% in science and technology.

Three out of four people surveyed prefer to go to the hospital to find out about health issues Health workers as the main source of information, However, the internet or social networks are the preferred means of learning about science and technology (82.1%), environment and ecology (76.6%), and food and physical well-being (72.9%). These figures coincide with the preliminary results of the XI Survey of Social Perceptions of Science and Technology, 2022, which will be made public in 2023.

Social networks are the most commonly used Internet-based medium for counseling on all topics highlighted in the survey, despite the fact that 62% of those surveyed indicated this medium as the main channel through which From whom they have received suspicious information. Last week.

As Díaz Catalan told SINC, “It may be paradoxical that the media one turns to for information is what arouses the most suspicion. However, it may have to do with the ease of use that social networking applications offer.” characteristic and how we have integrated them into everyday life, in such a way that it is more intuitive to discover any of these things than in other media that one does not habitually delve into.

On the other hand, if the group is analyzed, one in four people have admitted to receiving false information On scientific topics during the last week. The perception of lack of true information on issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, climate change, fitness and nutrition increases.

These experts point out that “misinformation in matters related to health and science is a global problem, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a worrying fact, as reflected in the varying responses being given to misinformation from different institutions,” he highlighted.

Increased perception of lack of true information on issues such as the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines, climate change, fitness and nutrition

Radio, TV and printed press, the media with the most credibility

In opposition to social networks, radio, television and the written press on paper stand out as the means of communication that generate the most credibility among the Spanish population.

In recent years, with the aim of dealing with disintegration, different means of verification hey fact check Those who try to throw evidence in the face of information disclosed by various media. About 25% of those surveyed have had contact with some form of verification at some point, although this percentage decreases with lower education levels.

Only 10% of all people surveyed do not feel that the information they are receiving is true. Among those with primary education, the percentage practically doubles.

effect of misinformation

Most Spanish citizens believe that the spread of misinformation and hoaxes has a negative effect on the population. Seven out of ten people (71.5%) strongly agree that “disinformation and hoaxes have the potential manipulate people’s beliefs, Six out of ten strongly agree with the statement that “the spread of misinformation or hoaxes can have harmful effects on the health of the population” and “misinformation and Fraud causes citizens to distrust institutions,

Half strongly agree that “the spread of hype among the population about COVID-19 has had a detrimental effect on the credibility of expert and scientific personnel.”

Half of those surveyed strongly agree that the spread of rumors about COVID-19 among the population has a detrimental effect on the credibility of experts and scientific personnel.

In this study, participants were also asked to encounter a selection of false headlines and others drawn from the science section of our nation’s main general newspapers. In general terms, the Spanish population knows distinguish between true and false information, Certain factors, such as greater knowledge of how the media work (media literacy) or trust in institutions affect this ability to identify misinformation.

Furthermore, false information is shared to a lesser extent than true information. however, there is a a considerable percentage of people who share hoaxes, In the case of factors influencing the propensity to share misinformation, these vary by topic, although, in general, the ability to understand true and false headlines and, again, media literacy, are important factors in sharing information. undermines the intention of ,

how to fight misinformation

Based on the study’s results and conclusions, the authors develop a series of recommendations to combat misinformation in the field of science communication: promoting media literacy among the population; increasing knowledge about the workings of science and the social practices of the scientific community; give rise to healthy skepticism,

Other tactics are to avoid politicizing and polarizing scientific findings; promoting the quality of scientific communication; To promote professional and specialized scientific journalism; Promoting structures, media and resources for scientific communication and limiting the spread of misinformation through algorithms.

The authors have developed recommendations, which include increasing knowledge about how science works, avoiding politicization and polarization of scientific findings, and promoting the quality of scientific communication.

In this context, FECYT has launched various initiatives in line with these recommendations, such as the SINC Scientific News Agency, which promotes exclusive and rigorous scientific journalism; Science Media Center Spain, the media were presented as a resource so that they have rigorous sources of information.

These initiatives also call for assistance to promote techno-scientific culture and innovation, which is the main source of funding for scientific dissemination activities carried out in Spain, and which promote scientific dissemination and communication promoting civic participation in science and technology. Funds projects. Help combat scientific misinformation.

Celia Díaz Catalan emphasizes that “this work highlights the perception of misinformation as well as the different profiles and mechanisms associated with its dissemination. Based on these, a series of recommendations are made that require the complicity of different actors It would be appropriate not to do only A track this data, rather an analysis of some of the relationships found in more depth. It will also be very important to be able to analyze the impact of some proposed measures, even on a smaller scale, to test their potential for change.”

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